TIFF 2012: Thanks for Sharing and Everyday Review (Paolo Kagaoan)

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

Thanks for Sharing (2012)

Directed by Stuart Blumberg

Starring Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Gad, Alecia ‘Pink’ Moore, Carol Kane, Tim Robbins, Joely Richardson and Patrick Fugit

Thanks for Sharing’s opening sequence has a shot of Mark Ruffalo praying, and these shots are digital, crisp and clean. This kind of visual cleanliness is ironic because the city it depicts, New York City, as well as the characters in it are dirr-ty! Ruffalo walks the streets of Manhattan full of lingerie ads. 2012 lingerie ads, if you’re getting my implications. It’s either the movie shows the dated aspects in writer-director Stuart Blumberg’s concept of overwhelmed sexual stimuli or Ruffalo’s character is just into barely legal anorexics. There’s lots of proof within the movie to back up both readings of it.

Ruffalo’s Adam, named after the original, primordial man, is in a Sex Addicts Anonymous 12 step program. There’s Mike (Tim Robbins), the papa bear of the group. Neil (Josh Gad), a doctor, is the kind of guy who humps people on the subways, fakes his sobriety day count and videotapes up his boss’s skirt. Peggy A. Schnizter costumed this movie and is apparently terrible at it. Anyway, the fourth member of the group is Dede (Alecia ‘Pink’ Moore), a foul-mouthed perfectly cast manic pixie dream girl who becomes Neil’s platonic BFF. These characters have love interests (Gwyneth Paltrow, who shares great chemistry with Ruffalo), wives (Joely Richardson), sons (Patrick Fugit, who is finally a man) and mothers (Carol Kane) who also deal with the main characters’ addictions as well as their own issues

The movie raises thoughts about sex addiction, proving sex addiction’s veracity as a disease and on a case to case basis and incorporating our own personal experiences to the disease. It’s mostly humourous, although there’s a shot where the gag takes place in the background and not the foreground. The last half hour would have been your typical rom-com conflict driven dénouement, but Mike’s wife’s comment, triggering most of the characters to go out of control, is jarringly cruel and refreshingly disturbing. It’s that one thing thrown into the mix that makes this movie less than conventional.

Photo from http://www.tiff.net


Directed by Michael Winterbottom

Starring Shirley Henderson, John Simm, Shaun Kirk, Katrina Kirk, Stephanie Kirk, Robert Kirk

Michael Nyman scores this new Michael Winterbottom movie about a working class woman named Karen (Shirley Henderson). It’s a beautiful score that would be successful with or without the movie for which it is composed. The title, EVERYDAY, implies what we’re going to see for the next ninety minutes or so. It portrays five years of her and her kids preparing for the day, taking lots of public transportation – do cabs count – to school or her two jobs as well as to her husband (John Simm), who is incarcerated for most of the movie’s running time.

Winterbottom has filmed his actors for the same five years of Karen’s husband’s prison time. It’s a more realistic depiction of change, an experiment as to whether familial relationships can withstand a half decade of distance. He also doesn’t rely on aging make-up or wigs, and fortunately Henderson isn’t given the same cartoony roles that she has been reduced to in the past. Their kids have their naughty moments that almost make us worry. Despite that, Winterbottom thankfully doesn’t exclusively prove whether they turn up as bad kids or good ones. But the characters’ physical constancy reflects their interior static nature, making their lives almost mundane. Again, why watch a movie where nothing really happens? And if Karen is decidedly naturalistic and bare, so is her husband depicted unclearly. Simm makes his character good of a husband and father without exploring why he ended up in jail or excusing his behaviour. If anything, the child actors carry this movie, their young unsculpted faces and voices surprisingly capable of engendering the yearning for the father they barely see. This is especially true with Shaun (Shaun Kirk) draws out the way he tells his dad that he misses the latter, more haunting than Henderson, as great as she is here.

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ChickFlicking – The Avengers Assemble Some Serious Eye Candy! (Nadia Sandhu)

Not a lot can be said about The Avengers that hasn’t already been said.  Joss Whedon’s film has been previewed, reviewed, and even sparked a media feud on the way to a record opening weekend.

Call it Spring Fever, but despite this wall of coverage I did manage to find an angle that required immediate exploration- the bicep to tricep ratio of the world’s heroes.  Drool.  Marvel and Disney’s casting department really hit this one out of the park:

Captain America is like Superman. This is a role that can go horribly, horribly wrong for an actor.  Earnest, upright, brightly costumed- that’s a tough gig these days.  But wow.  Chris Evans is a revelation from the golden sheen of his slicked back hair, to that square jawed resolve… hawt.  This man (and his shoulders) really sold that red, white and blue costume. Consider me a pre-sale for Captain America 2 tickets.

In a rare moment towards the end of the film when Robert Downey Jr. isn’t being smarmy or sarcastic as Tony Stark, one is suddenly reminded that this is one damn fine looking man.  It’s those puppy dog eyes.  Gotta be.

Mark Ruffalo is a nice guy, which can be death on the big screen, but his Bruce Banner manages a geeky chic that is awkward and endearing at the same time.  Kudos Mr. Ruffalo.  It takes a real man to rock those hideous faded cords and hide those broad shoulders under a ratty, oversized jacket.

Jeremy Renner is everywhere.  Literally.  I saw the Hurt Locker and he does play soldier very well, but why is this man in every movie franchise?  Mission Impossible, Bourne and The Avengers in 2012 alone!  Well after a close assessment of his work in The Avengers I believe the answer lies in a combination of piercing blue eyes and some really very nicely proportioned arms.  Shoulder to bicep, those arms will not be denied!

Nicky Fury covers all sins.  I am almost  ready to forgive Samuel L. Jackson for the debacle that was his portrayal of Mace Windu in the regrettable Star Wars Prequels.  Eye patch. Leather jacket.  Swagger.  Case closed.

After suspecting it during Thor, I am inching ever closer to the thesis that Chris Hemsworth equals the New Brad Pitt.  And what Hollywood needs right now is another Brad Pitt. Rawr.  Someone get on that Legends of the Fall remake, STAT!

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The Avengers Review (Matt Hodgson)

Three months in France and 10 days in Italy; I can’t even remember the last time I had an opportunity to see a new release in a movie theatre that wasn’t the victim of a coldly indifferent dub job. Luckily, Rome seems to be a little more conscious of preserving film experience, and this past Thursday I had the opportunity to check out one of the most hyped and successful films of recent memory – The Avengers.

Now being in Europe the theatre experience was a whole different beast than I was accustomed to – in fact I could probably write a review just on Italian theatres! For example, seats were assigned for each ticket holder, and at roughly the middle-point of the film the projector was shut off and the overhead lights unceremoniously turned on to make way for an intermission accompanied by a popcorn vendor trolling down the aisle. But I’m not here to review the Italian cinema experience, rather one of the most enjoyable action blockbusters to come out of Hollywood in a long, long time.

In case you’ve been living in a pre-Y2K underground shelter, The Avengers is the cinematic version of the comic book of the same name. The Avengers is comprised of some of the most popular superheroes in the Marvel universe, and the film version casts similarly popular Hollywood actors in the roles of these heroes: Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), and Samuel L. Jackson as Samuel L. Jackson Nick Fury.

As a boy and an avid comic book fan I was certainly aware of who The Avengers were, but in the 90’s they hardly seemed like a hot Ticket. The X-men dominated the marvel universe, while the skin-deep coolness of the Image universe was temporarily stealing fans from ‘classic’ superheroes like The Avengers. Since then we have had a plethora of superheroes movies, and despite being a previous comicbook fan, I have to admit that Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ version of Batman was the only one that seemed to resonate with me. This has definitely changed with the release of The Avengers.

Joss Whedon the writer/director of the film has chosen and depicted the perfect subject matter for a superhero film; the fate of the world is threatened by an alien god (Hiddleston), threatening an alien invasion – nothing more, nothing less. The heroes, earth’s only hope for surviving this ordeal, are introduced throughout the beginning of the film, and the issue quickly becomes whether or not these extraordinary individuals can overcome their differences and work together as a team. A simple concept, one that could even work on TV’s ‘The Office’, but when you have a egomaniac-playboy-billionaire with a nearly indestructible suit of armour, a super-soldier from the 40’s, a Norse God, and anger management’s least successful participant, getting along and working as a team seems barely short of infinitely impossible.

The Avengers can be charged with some sloppy dialogue at times, not the fault of the Whedon, but of Jackson and Johansson early on in the film and some of the secondary actors. However, after about 30-40 minutes the script and the actors begin to work wonderfully together and there are some truly hilarious lines and moments, not to mention REAL superhero dialogue. Also, the action sequences will leave you sitting on the edge of your seat, your support firmly behind one of the combatants, but still worried about their fate despite their superhero status. A particular action sequence in the first half of the film with Thor, Ironman, and Captain America is as close as Whedon could have hoped to approach perfection.

Robert Downey Jr. is an absolute scene stealer with his deadpan delivery of comedic dialogue that we’ve become so accustomed to. Also, it may sound strange, but the filmmakers really nailed the appropriateness of the special effects. The effects rarely seem to be too much for the subject matter (an issue that I think many Hollywood movies are struggling with nowadays, studios often blowing viewers away resulting in stimulus overload), that said, the film is still packed with some crazy visuals!

Finally, the reveal at the end of the credits left me wanting to walk out of The Avengers and directly into Avengers 2. Rarely have I been this satisfied with a Hollywood movie. The Avengers is a must see for anyone with a sense of adventure or a desire to meet some of earth’s greatest heroes.

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